Signs — and sense — are pointing to the Seahawks unleashing Marshawn Lynch on the Broncos this weekend.
A rested Lynch, that is. Seattle couldn’t have used him much less last week.
The man who entered this season with the most carries in the NFL since 2011, who averaged 20 carries per game the previous two seasons and had 20 more in the opening win over Green Bay two weeks ago, had just six rushes in last weekend’s loss at San Diego. Then he sat out Wednesday’s practice to rest a tight back.
“Well, we don’t plan on having 40 plays on offense,” Seahawks offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said following practice for Sunday’s Super Bowl rematch against Denver at CenturyLink Field.
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So roughly how many carries did Bevell have in the gameplan the Seahawks didn’t get to execute in San Diego, because the Chargers controlled the ball for 42 minutes, 15 seconds of the game’s 60 minutes?
“He would have gotten a lot more carries if we would have had a lot more plays,” is all Bevell would say.
“It’s just the way the game played out. It was a crazy game. We were still able to score points in the situations we had. We still could have done better, converted, you know, a couple more third downs. And that would have given us some plays. But we still moved the ball. We still had explosive plays. We still moved the ball in the red zone. So there’s positives to take away from it.
“But we need to get the ball more.”
Bevell didn’t specify, but for Sunday against the Broncos, 20 or more carries for Lynch would be about right for the Seahawks.
SIT OUT PRACTICE
Lynch, safety Kam Chancellor (ankle), tight end Zach Miller (ankle) and linebacker Mike Morgan (hip) stood watching practice instead of participating.
Monday, coach Pete Carroll said the reason Lynch walked off the field into the locker room with just over a minute to play at San Diego was because his back had stiffened, and that is an ongoing issue the Seahawks are monitoring. It is not unusual for Lynch to do next to nothing during the middle days of game weeks during the regular season.
Chancellor has company in the defense looking slower than usual while defending tight end Antonio Gates and the Chargers’ passing game last weekend. He said Wednesday “I couldn’t feel my legs” with temperatures on the field in San Diego approaching 120 degrees.
Running back Christine Michael and rookie linebacker Kevin Pierre-Louis returned to limited participation after each missed two weeks with hamstring injuries. Third tight end Cooper Helfet participated fully after two weeks out with a knee injury.
WELKER RETURNS TO BRONCOS
Wes Welker practiced Wednesday with Peyton Manning and the Broncos for the first time in weeks in Colorado. That was hours after Welker had his four-game suspension for amphetamine use reclassified under the just-ratified agreement between the NFL and its players’ union on a new drug policy, making him eligible immediately.
As Manning said of the return of his favorite target on third downs: “That changes things” — such as likely less of the two-tight end formations Denver has used instead of Welker’s specialty of three-wide receiver sets while beating Indianapolis and Kansas City by seven points each.
Though Broncos coach John Fox said, “We didn’t just throw him back in there and run him every rep. We’ll be smart about that, getting him back in there.” The Seahawks don’t expect anything other than the full Welker in the slot for Denver on Sunday.
That means Marcus Burley, Seattle’s fill-in, second-year nickel back acquired Aug. 30 in a trade with Indianapolis will have a big challenge. Burley has impressed the Seahawks in two games while Jeremy Lane is out until at least early November with a groin injury.
“He doesn’t seem like a first-time guy,” Carroll said. “He’s real serious. He’s real savvy. He applies himself really well. He really fits the mold of a nickel corner. He’s a lot like (former Seahawk nickel back) Walter Thurmond and Jeremy; those guys have really good quickness. More so like Walter, I think, they have really good quickness in explosion in the small area that you need at this position that he’s going to cover.
“You know Welker is in there, and he’s as quick as you can get.”
Carroll on the mood of his team: “Serious. Really serious. They’re clued in that they want to put in a really good week right now. We know that we have terrific championship matchup coming up and they want to play really good football. I’m sure that I’m going to see that all during the week. And we’ll do it one day at a time, see if we can put together the preparation that demonstrates that.”